Wednesday, August 15, 2018

The Greenie fairy tale

A clean and pure pristine primeval planet earth existed for a billion years in natural perfection, wholeness, and wholesomeness – unpolluted, untainted, untarnished and uncorrupted in the perfection of the harmony of nature. The geology, biology, and climatology were in a state of perfection. The climate was stable and unchanging with no extreme weather. Living creatures both plants and animals lived in peace and tranquility as essential elements of nature itself.

There was no ozone depletion, no climate change, no skin cancer, no hurricanes and no species extinction from bad weather. Modern day ecofearology is a yearning for this humanless state of nature – a yearning for a return to what the planet was like before humans came along.

Then the devil appeared in the form of humans who came on spaceships from outer space. Humans are not part of nature but an external force alien to nature and an abomination. They will soon turn this heavenly planet into a living hell with human activity because their nature is to consume and destroy.
At first the alien humans were relatively harmless living off the land as hunter gatherers in harmony with nature. But they were just biding their time and waiting for their numbers to grow. When their population reached 6 million, they made their first move for the conquest of the planet. It was a fundamental change in human behavior that has come to be called the Neolithic Revolution.

In the Neolithic Revolution, the humans gave up their eco-friendly hunter-gatherer lifestyle and cleared forests to build homes and farms and to grow crops and raise animals in an extensive and intensive land use change that would forever alter the ecology of the earth. The strategy was immensely successful for the humans who now commanded incredible wealth and power over all other life forms. Their numbers grew rapidly in a population explosion from 6 million to 60 million.

By the year 1750 the population of humans had surged to one billion. Their affluence from agriculture, tool-making, medical care, and new knowledge about the earth had rapidly increased their power against nature. But the greater and more devastating change was yet to come in the form of the Industrial Revolution made possible with the transition in their source of energy from animal power, wind, and running water to machines burning hydrocarbon fuels dug up from under the ground. This new found energy source and the machines gave them immense power. Nature would soon be at their mercy.

By the year 1950, the population of humans had more than doubled to 2.5 billion and more and more machines were invented so that almost everything the humans did was driven by fossil fueled machines. These included cars and trucks for surface transportation, fossil fueled ships for crossing the oceans, and fossil fueled aircraft for their conquest of the atmosphere. Nuclear bombs were invented, tested, and used. Space travel was opening up new tools and ways for humans to conquer nature. The Anthropocene was now in full force. Whereas humans had once been at the mercy of nature, the tables had been turned, and nature and the planet itself were now at the mercy of humans and human activity.

The consequences of these changes and of the implications of the complete capture of nature by humans for the ability of nature to sustain humans in the future are the primary concerns of the new science of Ecofearology. The science involves the study of nature and human activity as a way of protecting nature and managing nature to preserve its ability to sustain humans. It is based on EIGHT PRINCIPLES.

PRINCIPLE#1: There are no natural or cyclical changes on earth. All measured changes in nature are trends and all trends are human caused.

PRINCIPLE#2: The concentration of all chemicals in the atmosphere and oceans is important. If the concentration is going up it’s a bad thing and its accretion is caused by human activity. Higher concentrations of this thing will be the end of the world.

PRINCIPLE#3: If the concentration is going down it’s a bad thing and its depletion is caused by human activity. If we run out of this thing it will be the end of the world.

PRINCIPLE#4: Humans are not part of nature but space aliens that invaded this once pristine planet. The planet was fine until the dreaded humans arrived.

PRINCIPLE#5: All human caused trends lead to catastrophic results for the environment and by extension, the planet itself. It is not possible for a human caused trend to benefit the planet because humans are not part of nature but space aliens and unnatural.

PRINCIPLE#6: Human scientists can save the planet from the other humans because the impact of bad human intervention in nature can be undone only by good human intervention prescribed by human scientists because they know a lot of science and physics and stuff like that. Human intervention is necessary to save the planet from human intervention.

PRINCIPLE#7: Even if deniers find fault with the science of human caused catastrophe, we must ignore the deniers because we can’t take the chance that the scientists could turn out to be right.

PRINCIPLE#8: The human invaders of this once pristine planet are now the managers of nature and the operators of the planet. Therefore we humans must take care of nature and run the planet because nature can no longer take care of itself like it once did now that the human invaders are here.


Study: Climate change could threaten dairy industry in Lancaster County

Lancaster County’s dairy farmers could be facing devastating drops in corn yields by 2050 because of global warming, according to a new research study.

 “If climate projections hold, it will threaten the dairy industry in Lancaster County,” said Heather Karsten, an associate professor of crop production ecology at Penn State.

That’s because extremely high summer temperatures in Lancaster County could mute key reproduction phases in corn plant growth, decreasing yields for a winter feed that is a linchpin in affordable dairy farming, Karsten said in an interview with LNP.

The extreme temperatures — which are projected to be higher in Lancaster County than anywhere else in the Northeast — not only could retard reproduction at a critical time but could result in corn plants that mature faster but grow smaller, she said.

“We need all that biomass because most corn is harvested for silage,” Karsten observed.

Irrigation more common?
It’s also possible that because of more frequent dry periods Lancaster County dairy farmers will have to use irrigation systems for their corn crops to be healthy, as is common in the Midwest, said Karsten, who headed the study’s research team.


Climate change alarmism doesn’t help Lancaster county farmers

As if farmers aren’t already facing problems in the dairy industry, Penn State adds insult to injury by releasing a report stating climate change is going to devastate corn yields in Lancaster County by 2050. (“Study: Dairy in peril from climate shift,” June 27 LNP).

An alarmist study at best, the researchers are reporting a worst-case scenario, which then makes headlines in the local news. There is significant reason to question this study. It reveals, in fact, that this is just one of many possible climate change situations that could happen in Lancaster County over the next several decades, if anything happens at all.

“Depending on which climate scenario occurs,” Penn State associate professor Heather Karsten is quoted in the study, “we could see severe impacts on corn production in that major dairy area. Lancaster County is looking like it is going to experience more days with extreme temperature stress that will reduce corn yields.”

The study goes on to state that climate models show the average ambient temperature in the Northeast is projected to warm by about 5.4 degrees Fahrenheit by 2050, which researchers are predicting will hinder reproduction of the corn plant. However, I do not believe the theory of climate change is settled science.

A 2012 study by Ohio State University pointed out that corn descended from a tropical grass and can tolerate exposures to adverse temperatures as high as 112 degrees for brief periods. Optimal daytime temperatures for corn typically range between 77 and 91 degrees, the study states.

Anyone who knows anything about growing corn knows this versatile crop thrives in long, hot, sun-filled days and moist conditions. In this area, corn is typically planted in late April and early May and then harvested anywhere from mid-August through September. Except for in the month of July, adding 5 degrees doesn’t get the average high temperature above 90 degrees here, according to U.S. climate data for Harrisburg. Of course, there will be swings both ways in temperature and rainfall from year to year, as we just experienced.

There are corn hybrids being used today that are heat- and drought-tolerant. I would expect that by 2050 there will be even more scientific crop improvements to help farmers deal with potential weather changes. The agriculture industry and its farmers have adjusted to many adverse conditions over the years, like insect and weed pressures. If climate change becomes a threat, no doubt the industry will adjust accordingly.

Though corn is widely grown and used as animal feed, there are other foodstuffs that can supplement the crop in a feed ration. For years on my family’s farm, we have been feeding our dairy cattle recycled produce from grocery stores. Who’s to say something else won’t replace the corn plant entirely in our future?

While Lancaster County is known for its rich soils that can tolerate drier conditions, the area doesn’t often disappoint with necessary rain. But irrigation isn’t unheard of here, even though the Penn State study implies that the practice mostly occurs in the Midwest.

In drought years here in the late 1980s, my family irrigated several hundred acres of corn. Many produce farms in this area already currently irrigate their crops. Some farmers have irrigation equipment in place as a way to spread liquid manure. It wouldn’t be a far reach for them to water their crops if needed.

The study continues to propose double cropping with the expected longer growing season brought on by predicted climate change. Guess what? It’s already being done. For years, farmers have planted cover crops after corn to control soil erosion in the winter months and then take advantage of a nutritious feed source in the spring.

While Penn State’s researchers further declare in their study that higher temperatures could adversely affect cows, many barns in our county already are equipped to handle hot summers with tunnel ventilation, sprinkler systems and fans for cow comfort. Though cattle prefer cooler temperatures, any animals faced with extreme temperatures will remain healthy under good management.

As a dairy farmer whose occupation depends on closely following weather forecasts, I find it hard to believe that drastic weather predictions are being made for 34 years from now when meteorologists can’t tell me exactly what the weather will be next week. Developing policies based on varying climate change models that aren’t exact and projecting a “sky is falling” mentality is counterproductive to making sensible and sound policies that can help the agriculture industry feed our population into the future.

The current dairy crisis is significant and exists because of overproduction and lack of consumption. We need to address these economically driven problems in the agriculture industry right now. These overwhelming challenges are driving many farmers to the brink of bankruptcy or causing them to go out of business entirely.

These concerns are paramount compared with Penn State’s nebulous hype about climate change. This study isn’t helping farmers. It makes recommendations about farming practices already being implemented. Penn State needs to work with its food producers to come up with solutions to potential problems rather than promote a fearmongering study and further a misguided agenda.


Tesla cars melt in the rain

A lot of things melt in the rain. Don't leave your cake out in it. But have you ever had a car bumper fall off? No? Two new owners of Tesla Model 3s say it has happened to them.

The rear bumper, or the bumper cover to be more precise, fell off during his inaugural drive home, says momentarily proud but now perturbed new Model 3 owner Rithesh Nair.

Nair says it appears the bumper cover separated from its screws, and the theory on Twitter goes that a piece of shielding was missing, torn or loose. Without it, rainwater got into the bumper cover, and the weight of accumulated water tore the plastic piece away.

There were reports of quality control issues, most notably one from CNBC, during the long, delayed Model 3 production runup, though recently Munro & Associates conducted a teardown of a Model 3 and pronounced it a "symphony of engineering."

No reply yet from Elon Musk. But late in the day, a Tesla official issued a statement: "We're setting an extremely high bar for Model 3, and what happened in this situation is not how we build our cars. We're investigating the issue to understand what caused it, and we are contacting our customers to resolve this and ensure they are satisfied."


Australian Center-Right government still trying to square the circle

They claim they can deliver cheaper elecrity, renewable energy and reliable energy all at once

At last some good news for Malcolm Turnbull. He sure needs it.

So an ebullient Prime Minister and Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg are delighted to have seen off the vehement attacks by Tony Abbott & Friends on the national energy guarantee. The Coalition party room debate was hardly a polite affair but the small if noisy minority opposed proved to be no more than that.

Even if much of the support was of the "yes, but ..." variety, as Abbott described it in a terse statement, it was more than enough to get through.

It's still far too early, however, to celebrate Turnbull's declaration of the need to "bring an end to the years of ideology and idiocy".

His ostensible target was Bill Shorten and Federal Labor with the Prime Minister putting public pressure on the Opposition to support the bill. Helpfully, that would also remove the government's need to simultaneously get the backing of all Coalition MPs in the House – which looks unlikely – and the permanently fractious cross bench in the Senate.

Despite the bluster from the Opposition leader about "a Frankenstein's monster of a policy" and the inevitable proposed amendments to increase the emissions reductions target, Labor is expected to finally vote for the government's version.

Labor knows it could always up the 26 per cent target on 2005 levels itself if it wins government. As well as bipartisan support providing greater investment certainty for the industry, the structure of the guarantee also provides a conveniently flexible policy for any new government that would inherit the same problems of permanently higher electricity prices.

There's no quick fix to that issue, of course. That's despite Labor's firm promise that its commitment to more renewable energy will miraculously produce lower prices and the Coalition's equally dubious premise the national energy guarantee will also automatically deliver this.

Yet the power market is so complicated that most voters will really just follow their prejudices while politicians on all sides try to exaggerate the benefits or, alternatively, the disastrous impact of particular policies on prices.

This translates into Abbott's jibe about "merchant banker gobbledygook" versus the magical thinking coming from much of the environmental movement and Labor.

Much simpler for voters to comprehend is the Opposition's ability to mock continued displays of Coalition division to foment public scepticism about what the Turnbull government really stands for.

"While Mr Turnbull goes around attacking Mr Abbott, Mr Turnbull is, in fact, giving in to a lot of Mr Abbott's values when it comes to climate change and energy," Shorten insists.

Hardly. Tony Abbott could hardly have been more passionately vocal about the insanity of the Coalition supporting the guarantee, for example. Yet Turnbull promotes it as the best way to finally resolve a "broken" national electricity market.

"Now is the time to provide the certainty and the investment climate that is going to see more generation and lower prices," according to the Prime Minister.

Actually, the greater political problem for the Coalition is that voters might actually believe this and expect lower power bills in the immediate future, even ahead of the next election. When that doesn't happen, they will be looking for someone to blame. Labor will be pointing the way. Step up the Coalition government, owners of the national energy guarantee.

Selling that as a solution that will work if given time is certainly possible for the Coalition. But the impact will be modest at best. Buyer beware the words: "downwards pressure on prices". The real answer is: "higher otherwise."

It is also a much tougher sell when Labor can just quote so many Coalition opponents deriding even the notion that the guarantee can have any impact whatever on reducing prices.

That's also why the Victorian government would be mad to block its establishment ahead of its own state election in November. Not when it can just keep blaming Coalition policy for not delivering on higher levels of renewables without have to take any of the blame for its own failings, particularly its refusal to allow any onshore gas exploration or development.

Yet the Andrews government seems to be so afraid of losing a few inner city seats to the Greens that nothing can be guaranteed about its willingness to trade off that risk against a national policy backed by almost the entire power industry and business groups.

The meeting of the Council of Australian Governments last week agreed to hold a phone hook-up of state energy ministers Tuesday evening after the policy had gone through the Coalition party room. But Victoria, along with the Labor government in Queensland, are still demanding a delay of several more weeks before they finally have to commit to the policy.

Over that period, Labor will try to embarrass the Coalition and bolster its own supporters by suggesting the price of Turnbull and Frydenberg getting internal agreement will be to use taxpayer funds to build new coal-fired power stations.

The Coalition will keep insisting any policy or support is "technology agnostic". Luckily, it now has the key recommendation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to back this, suggesting the government can effectively become the buyer of last resort for longer term contracts for electricity in order to encourage private sector financing.

The Business Council of Australia makes the obvious point. Households and businesses will pay the price if political leaders continue to play politics.

"It's up to Victoria and Queensland, along with the other states and territories, to stop playing political games with people's power bills," it noted. That may be the ultimate in magical thinking.




Preserving the graphics:  Most graphics on this site are hotlinked from elsewhere.  But hotlinked graphics sometimes have only a short life -- as little as a week in some cases.  After that they no longer come up.  From January 2011 on, therefore, I have posted a monthly copy of everything on this blog to a separate site where I can host text and graphics together -- which should make the graphics available even if they are no longer coming up on this site.  See  here or here


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